Since 1989, Louisiana has had the TIMED program, a set of vitally-needed highway and bridge projects, funded by 4 cents of the gasoline tax (out of the total 20-cent tax). Some are done already, and others are in progress. (As in "shovels have been turned" or "lanes have been closed".)
However, two major projects remain on the TIMED list... a new bridge crossing in New Orleans along Florida Avenue... and this thing:
...Lemme tell you, since TIMED passed, this thing has been held up for one reason or another. For a long time, it was due to environmental impact. Lately, it's been because nobody can decide on a concrete routing. Now TIMED is broke because people aren't driving. Go figure. Of course, if people can't afford gas, they don't drive, which means they don't fill their tanks and less gas is sold. Louisiana's gas tax is static - they charge the same tax rate whether a gallon of gas costs forty cents or four dollars. It doesn't help that the cost of upgrading the Huey Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish is running way over projections due to a general increase in cost for, oh, everything since Katrina hit.
There's also the matter of the federal highway trust fund possibly being cut by $200 million or so due to a new formula for funding being considered by federal officials.
Anyway, the Wise Ones in Baton Rouge are figuring they can funnel another 3 cents from the gas tax to get these last few TIMED projects done. There's some other voodoo economics they're looking into, such as using money collected from the vehicle sales tax to go into roads, and possibly getting their hands on some of the surplus as well. There's also the possibility of taking $50 million from employee benefits. (I got a better idea... take some of it from the higher-ups' salaries!) They've already cut close to 400 jobs to try to save money as it is, so you know the belts are getting very tight up there.
TIMED's problems are only a drop in the bucket compared to the state's transportation woes as a whole. $14 billion construction backlog, you say? Yeah, you heard me right. I'll say this much... they're going to need some more potent voodoo for the books than what they're doing/proposing/imagining if they want to finish getting any of these projects done.
And they need to get done soon... 20 years is too long to wait, and we're still waiting.